The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimated in 2013 that there were approximately 23.6 million drivers age 70 and above in the United States. With age comes health complications, such as dementia, loss of vision, loss of hearing, and longer response time. These declines in health can create a dangerous situation for the older driver, as well as all other drivers on the road.
As reported by CBS News, George Weller, at the age of 89, drove into a crowd of people at a farmer’s market on July 16, 2003, in Santa Monica, California, resulting in 10 fatalities and over 70 injuries. It was thought that Mr. Weller may have got confused between the brake pedal and accelerator. Witnesses say that Mr. Weller was questioning as to why the crowd of people didn’t just get out of the way. Mr. Weller was convicted of manslaughter, and sentenced to 5 years’ probation.
In New York State, the Department of Motor Vehicles is the agency which has authority over drivers. New York State Vehicle & Traffic Law § 506 (1) vests the Commissioner of the department with the power of mandating qualification examinations to drive. New York does not have specific rules based on age, but if there are reasonable grounds, an individual can be required to take an examination given by the Testing and Investigation Unit.
Reasonable grounds can be based on a third-party report of unfitness. Also, if an individual has had three reportable accidents within a year-and-a-half, the accidents are sufficient enough to constitute reasonable grounds.
The physical effects of a car accident can be devastating and include debilitating life-long injuries as well as death. If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident, contact an experienced personal injury attorney who can advise you regarding your legal rights and remedies. Call Sakkas, Cahn & Weiss, LLP at 212-571-7171.